Situated in the Horn of Africa, the Republic of Djibouti is located on the Gulf of Aden at the southern entrance of the Red Sea and shares borders with Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. The country’s terrain is craggy, comprised of plateaus, plains, volcanic formations, and mountain ranges reaching 2,000 meters in height. Djibouti has very little arable soil; 89 percent of the country is desert, 10 percent is pasture, and 1 percent is forested. As a result of little precipitation and lands unsuitable for agriculture, Djibouti imports nearly all of its food. Djibouti is a resource-scarce country; this proneness to natural disasters is exacerbated by scarce water resources management, subpar land use planning, lack of building code enforcement, and limited capacity to react to natural disasters. Djibouti is prone to a number of natural hazards, including multi-annual droughts, frequent flash floods, frequent earthquakes, volcanism, and fires fuelled by droughts. Sea level rise represents a great threat to the Republic of Djibouti, particularly in Djibouti town where around 70% of the population is concentrated. Climate change will have impacts on the Djibouti marine and terrestrial ecosystems.
Most of the land in Djibouti is desert. However, wildlife vegetation is made up of semi-desert grassland, shrubland, and succulent scrub. The coastal area consists of deserts and mangroves. Dry evergreen forests are in the mountains of Mount Goda in the Day National Park near Tadjoura and Mabla Mountains.
There are protected forests on the slopes of the mountains north of the Gulf of Tadjoura. Less than 1% of the country’s total land area is forested.
The landscape of Djibouti is varied and extreme, ranging from rugged mountains in the north to a series of low desert plains separated by parallel plateaus in the west and south. Its highest peak is Mount Moussa at 6,654 feet (2,028 meters). The lowest point, which is also the lowest in Africa, is the saline Lake Assal, 509 feet (155 meters) below sea level.
Besides Lake Assal, the other major inland body of water is Lake Abbe, located on Djibouti’s south-western border with Ethiopia. The country is completely devoid of any permanent above-ground rivers, although some subterranean rivers exist.